Social Workers for Climate Action (SW4CA) is an alliance of social work practitioners, students, educators and researchers concerned about the impacts of climate change on human wellbeing, and committed to taking action to address this crisis.
We acknowledge the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is driven by human activity, above and beyond natural variability. We recognise that the impacts of climate change are already being felt across ecosystems and human societies and that without urgent action these impacts will continue to worsen. It has become clear that these negative impacts are not equitably distributed, but fall most heavily upon already disadvantaged and marginalised individuals, communities, and societies. We note particular impacts upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and other First-Nations peoples around the globe, the traditional owners and stewards of the land. Climate change is therefore not only an environmental concern, but a fundamental issue of social justice and human rights.
In particular, we recognise that climate change is already impacting on a number of areas of specific concern for social workers. These include, but are not limited to: disaster responses, health, mental health, food security, energy security, housing and homelessness, employment, migration, poverty, family violence, and crime. Impacts in these areas will continue to develop and worsen as the climate crisis progresses.
We recognise that social workers are, and will continue to be, at the front line of responding to these human impacts, using their knowledge, skills, and values to address the needs of climate casualties as part of their professional practice. However, we also believe that social workers have an important contribution to make by supporting individuals, communities, and societies to adapt to the changing climate, and by actively engaging in efforts to mitigate climate change and avoid future catastrophe.
Social Workers for Climate Action aims to support these efforts by: providing social workers with current, accurate information about the nature, scale, and impacts of climate change; supporting social workers to make changes in their individual lives, practice, organisations, and communities; providing practical resources and tools for workers to use in their practice that reflect an understanding of climate change and an eco-social orientation; by providing opportunities for active engagement in political processes, policy formulation, community development and social action.
Climate change poses an existential threat to humanity. Social workers are uniquely skilled to respond to this threat through practice focused on reaction to climate impacts, but also adaptation and mitigation. SW4CA strongly believes that it is our ethical obligation to do so.